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Smoking on Television is Harmful to the Health of the Nation's Youth: BMA

nd in a positive social context, often with sexually suggestive content. Rarely is smoking portrayed in an unattractive manner or associated with negative consequences. Television serves as an indirect method of smoking advertising.”

With the ban on smoking in public places now in place in Wales, and the wish by thousands of smokers to kick the habit as a result, children and young adults will see less smoking around them. However, they are still exposed to smoking on TV and are likely to take up the habit as a result. BMA Cymru Wales believes that broadcasters have the responsibility to banish smoking from the screen. “There is no dramatic need to show people smoking. Moods like stress can be portrayed perfectly well without the character puffing out clouds of smoke,” said Dr Lewis.

"The most effective way to address smoking is to do all we can to discourage youngsters from taking up the habit in the first place, and we must do all we can to educate them that tobacco smoke kills and that it’s a stupid idea to take up the habit in the first place. Children are very vulnerable to suggestion, and the less exposure they have to adults smoking, the better.”

“The average smoker will lose about 10 years of life because of smoking. Every day, doctors across Wales witness the devastating effects of smoking on their patients. Many smokers take up the habit at a young age and the majority, by their early 20s, wish they had never started.”

The premise that television instructs and motivates behavior is grounded in social learning theory. According to this theory, people acquire new skills or behavioral scripts primarily through the observation of models. People perform the behavior in response to expected and valued rewards; these can be rewards that they have earned before or observed being given to others ("vicarious reinforcement"). “Television provides adolescents with role models, including movie and television stars who p
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